Going After What You Want is Hard Work: A Story From An Entrepreneur

“If it were easy everyone would be doing it.” I have heard this many times since I started my business. The thought of owning my business is far different from where it was four years ago. I do not regret a single thing but wish someone would have given me an actual glimpse of what it looked it to prepare myself.

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“Money is like oxygen.” Bruno (@bcoelho2000)

If you do not have money, you and your business are dead. It is wise to save up three months or more worth of bills set aside before launching. I did exactly three and it went faster than I anticipated. This resulted in me working multiple jobs just to bring money in. Tip: Save at least six months to a years worth or bills. Avoid credit cards and business loans.

Low-Hanging Fruit vs. Money Makers

When I stated in my business, I needed to build a portfolio to showcase my talent. Imagine going up to a car repair shop and applying for a car mechanic job with no actual experience working on a car. Yeah. Luckily, I found tradeoffs early in my business to get experience under my belt. A local gym needed help with online and local marketing, so in exchange for my services I was given a “free gym membership” and discounted health vitamins.

The low-hanging fruit term is what I call clients and projects that are in front of you. Just because they are in front of you does not mean you should do business with them. These projects and clients can be a distraction or produce low results in your own business while you help them in theirs. We all want to go after the money makers where it’s a mutual tradeoff of time, experience, and pay for both parties involved.

Carry your business card like you carry your cell phone.” @BMSomerville

How many times have you been in a place and meet someone new. You both talk and then you are asked for your business card and you don’t have it on you. Shame, shame. If you carried a stack of business cards like you carry your cell phone, you would ensure you are putting your name out there. No matter where I am, I keep a handful of cards handy to give my information out and to take down information of whom I am speaking with.

Nurture Relationships Before the Dry Spells

After meeting someone, I go through a methodical process that works for me. I exchange information with them and try to connect with them online to start creating a relationship with him or her. Within a week, I try to e-mail them a personalized e-mail reminding him or her how we met and would like to connect with them further. This can by done on LinkedIn or Twitter and ask for a time to talk on the phone or meet again one on one.

When a meeting takes place, I send a thank-you card in the mail thanking them for his or her time. (If you mail it to their office with the Attn: NAME it will get to them without asking for their home address.) During the meeting I take down mental notes that I file in Evernote’s Hello app to remind myself what the other persons interests are ahead of my own. By remembering a few details like this are golden in the world of networking. If I find anything industry related or an article that reminds me of him or her, I send it to them with a casual follow up.

By doing this, a business relationship is now nurtured. When my business runs low on referrals oddly enough my network comes back to me like I have for them in the past. When you have a good networking system, the system works for you and grows your business.

Grow Strengths and Outsource Weaknesses

I am great at strategizing and planning with a creative flare for any industry. I am not good at web coding, SEO, or grant writing. If a client or opportunity comes my way, I can two options:  Put a smile on my face, say yes, and ask for help behind closed doors or outsource my project. The latter seems to work best for me. Do you remember the network I was nurturing? I keep them close where I can ask if someone has free time to take on a new project. We discuss the details and I will outsource it to them. I am transparent with the client and tell them I have someone working on it and the project gets done. Everyone is happy.

Hello #HustleMuscle, goodbye 9-5

I set my schedule to get work done. I know what days I work on what and set deadline to keep me on track. The more I juggle, the less I see “regular business hours”. A half day usually means I work anywhere from six to eight hours. A full day means I am working a ten to fifteen hour day. This is not to scare you or brag, but to give you a reality of what it costs to go after what you want.

Schedule Downtime, Rest, & Play

My schedule is determined by me and my workload. When every client and project is scheduled, I go back and schedule “me” time. The mornings are best for me to meditate and pray. The early evenings are better for me to escape for a quick run and make dinner. The mid-afternoons are good for a quick power nap or walk to the local coffee shop. Our bodies are not meant to go, go, go… I notice my body gets exhausted before my mind is tired.

What lessons have you learned running your own business? What advice would you give to other business owners or entrepreneurs?

Do I Even Matter To You, Or Am I Just A Number?

Do I even matter to you, or am I just a number? That is what I tell myself every time I see a connection request on multiple social media sites.

If we are going to connect, I would like to know more about you. Why not WOW me with writing my name in a brief message. Remind me the last time we saw one another. Tell me a little about yourself. I’m not asking for much.

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Try personalizing it a little with two to three sentences of originality. There is a lot of automation to make our lives simpler, but connecting to one another should never feel like a robotic command.

I know life gets busy and sometimes there isn’t time to personalize. What is going to happen when I gain a new client project, celebrate a birthday, or share an update? Will there be time for personalization then?

The lack of personalization provides me with a preview of our future networking relationship will play out. And if that is how it is going to be, I will be respectful and kind to you when I meet or see you again, but I will decline your request online.

If you LIKE my business page on Facebook, you will see a common thing happening on Fridays I call a “Friday Focus”. The topic varies by what you suggest or what comes to mind. My goal is to help YOU, the reader, to take away something valuable than you may not have considered before. If you want to contribute to an upcoming Friday Focus, please leave me a comment and we can make it happen.

5 Areas to Grow in 2014

As I sit down to write out my 2014 goals, it is hard to fathom where the last 365 days have gone. Instead of worrying of what didn’t get done in 2014, I am looking forward to what a new year may bring for me and my business. Like my friend Daisy had said, “In 2014, I’m working on changes.” As I grow in the different areas of my life, change will happen for the better.

2014 GoalsRTC (as a(n) business/entrepreneur)

  1. Plan ahead better
  2. Blog to share my voice and be heard
  3. Be confident in my strengths
  4. Do not be afraid of change
  5. Network more

@IamRachalT (personal life)

  1. Disconnect from “everything” once in a while
  2. Read one “business/inspiring/just because” book a month
  3. Exercise 5X/week
  4. Let IT be
  5. “Be fully present where you are” 1000Gifts

Faith

  1. Tithe consistently
  2. Pray over the specific desires of my heart
  3. Pray for others
  4. Be available to serve and give back
  5. Reach out when I need a LIFT

Family + Rob

  1. Call/Skype those who aren’t local
  2. Make date night important
  3. Make family night important
  4. Include them in achievements and ask about theirs
  5. Stay connected offline more than online

Friends

  1. Be social, more
  2. Say ‘yes’ more
  3. Be available
  4. Stay connected offline more than online
  5. Make lunch/coffee meet-ups dates important

What are your 2014 resolutions? What goals do you want to achieve? How can I help?

Don’t be a Rookie, Rookie.

If you have read my blog before this, you can tell, my passion is to help people. I feel that if I can help someone by passing down wisdom of what I have learned, the right person will appreciate it most. That is what this blog post is about.

In a dog-eat-dog world, it’s not about what you know–it’s who you know. Does experience count for something? It’s more like icing on the cake if you’re a match for a company that wants you. So how do you go from being a rookie to a professional?

Start acting like a professional. Rookies act like rookies. You can insert graduate, college student, or whatever adjective fits your current situation. I have noticed when you start acting like a professional, other professionals starts to notice.

Network like you mean it. Don’t go to an event just to collect and pass out business cards. You don’t know what to be that person. Go with a goal in mind. Last time, I called a friend up to fully commit myself in going and talk to three new people. (Only three?) Going is making progress in the right direction, but to be successful, I need to step out of my comfort zone. You should try to do the same.

Don’t be unique, be memorable. Everyone is trying to stand out. What do you see in your circle of peers? Think of way to stand out and be memorable is what is going to work in your favor.

Develop a brand about you.  If you are going into the communications field, this is a great way to start practicing your craft. Make a brand that makes you memorable to those you meet. Your brand should reflect who you are, so this goes hand in hand with the point above.

Make appointments with key contacts. When you network with someone, you are not instant Facebook friends. Connect with contacts on LinkedIn first. Your LinkedIn contacts will remain contacts until you take time to develop a working relationship. To grab his or her attention try sending an e-mail, tweet, or share something related to his or her industry once a month. If you see each other again, try to schedule a meeting to see how you two can help one another. Sometimes the other person might be able help you more than you help them, but connect with the intention to be helpful and learn.

If you get a meeting (not an interview) from a contact, always call 24 hours in advance you can make it. This is a reminder to the other party, you are coming and for them to clear time for you.  When I confirm the appointment, I call or leave a brief message. Afterward, I write a brief follow-up e-mail. Sometimes e-mail is faster for a response but not the only way to communicate. The morning of the meeting, check your e-mail again and listen to any messages. You don’t want to have a misunderstanding.

What has helped you up your game? If I can help you, tweet to @IamRachalT and I’ll be sure to do what I can. Good luck out there!

Network Like You Mean It

As an entrepreneur, networking is critical. I had thought in college it was excruciating because I was meeting people I didn’t know and had a lot of projects to finish. Guess what? Nothing has changed. I have projects to finish and I am still meeting people I don’t know, but it is less excruciating and more exciting! Why? Because I take advantage of the opportunity to network with intention instead of networking how I feel. In other words, network like you mean it.

If you’re invited to an event, don’t go to a networking event just to collect and pass out business cards. You don’t know what to be “that” person. Go with a goal in mind. How many genuine contacts do you want to make? How many conversations do you want to have? How many people do you want to reconnect with from the last event? Goals help you stay focused on WHY you are there instead of trying to find a reason to ditch or hit the bar.

Do you meet with a group of professionals? You should consider joining one. By meeting with a group of professionals (in your field or not), it challenges YOU to stay on top in your field.

  • I am a member of the Beaches Business Link in Ponte Vedra Beach. We are a group that meet bi-weekly to hear a guest speaker or apply what we learned at a working roundtable. I am one of the few marketers in this group, so it gives me an advantage to share my expertise while meeting other professionals in other businesses. We have a networking mixer on Thursday, August 15. Register here to come!
  • I am also a part of the JAMA (Jacksonville American Marketing Association) group that meets once a month. The group is full of marketing and advertising professionals, so it is easy to blend in. How do I stand out? I make sure my marketing is cohesive with what I represent each month. My goal for these meetups is to connect and reconnect with those I know professionally.

After an event is over, I use the LinkedIn CardMunch app to scan the business cards into my database. Within 24 hours, the information on the business card is saved on my phone and I can find the contact on LinkedIn. I always, always send a personalized message when connecting on LinkedIn. If the contact had made a valuable impression on me, I will send a thank you card in the mail. For tips on writing these cards or maintaining what I call, “Network Relationship Etiquette” read about them here.

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What Did We Do Before Social Media?

Do you network like you mean it? I’d love to exchange ideas!

If you LIKE my business page on Facebook, you will see a common thing happening on Fridays I call a “Friday Focus”. The topic varies by what you suggest or what comes to mind. My goal is to help YOU, the reader, to take away something valuable than you may not have considered before.

What Do You Tell People When They Ask…

ASK..

Who are you?

What do you do?

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

How did you find us?

Tell me a little about yourself.

There is something you need to know when a person or business asks you any of these questions. If they ask you, they probably ask everyone else the same question. Your answer is your one shot to leave a lasting impression. What you say can lead to more questions by other influences, but you got to get through the first series of questions being asked.

If you are thinking this is similar to an elevator pitch, then you are correct, my friend. With a little reasoning behind the question and responses already thought out, you are ahead of the game.

Who are you? This is the first question I get asked when I walk into a business or if I am on the phone with them. Try to talk at a slower pace than you normally do. The key here is to keep your response brief with enough explanation and clarity of your name and company you represent.

What do you do? I try to mix my response with a buzzword and industry keywords followed by a narrative. You can turn off or confuse who you are speaking with if you use too many buzzwords. It is best to use the narrative to describe your work instead of listing off your experience or what is stated on your résumé. Chances are they may know more about you than you think and might have access to this already.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? Honesty with ambition will give you a safe conscience. Embellish too much and forget what you said might come back to hurt you. I try to be honest about where I see myself going and express my career goals that expresses progress moving forward.

How did you find us? I have had a number of prospective clients who have asked me this in a meeting. At first the question caught me off guard, but quickly realized what they were really asking. Did you research the company? Do you know the work they do? There’s a fine line between flattery and phony. Use at least one recent and previous example to express you have followed them and their work.

Tell me a little about yourself. This infamous question is pretty much all the answers from above into a three-minute formal introduction of yourself.

Now put what you just read and know about these questions into practice.

Who are you? My name is Rachal Tarquin with RT Consulting.

What do you do? I am a Marketer that help businesses thrive online through social media and community building.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? I like helping people. I like working with businesses. My strength is working with businesses who need extra hands to carry out strategies reaching their customers. I want to be able to help other businesses find a balance between life, work, and marketing, like I have.

How did you find us? A friend had told me about the work you do here. A couple months back I heard about your project downtown. I can see now how you are holding an open house special, which is exciting to see.

Tell me a little about yourself.

The Wonderful, Awkward Truth of Online Networking

With a college degree behind me, letters after my name, and a killer resume I was certain I would find a job sooner than later. Unfortunately, it is much harder than it used to be. The economy this, the economy that… it has become “who you know” in a dog eat dog world.

I have had the privilege of meeting great people through the steps I took in practicing networking, which I would recommend to anyone to start now and stick to it! What I failed to mention in my blogging about my experiences in networking is that there are boundaries that come with differentiating people as friends and as contacts.

The hard lesson I learned is a contact can become a friend, but a contact is not always your friend. Please let me elaborate. Most of the contacts I have met have been through networking events, mutual friends or other contacts, jobs, or internships. The key word is met.

For a contact I find on LinkedIn or Twitter, I am communicating with them but have not met them yet. If the communication leads to a meeting, then the connection can evolve. If a meeting does not happen, then do not force it. If I have met him or her already, the communication has a familiar setting.

There is no right or wrong way to network with someone and genuinely want to stay in communication with him or her. The friendships will form naturally, while contacts are there to promote you in support of what you are going for in life. It would be awesome if your friend was in your contact list and was supporting you in your career choices as well, but this does not always happen. We are all human with similar thoughts and feelings. Do not take the boundaries to heart or allow them to get you discouraged. Some contacts are as friendly and eager to help you as you are to them. In the end, some people just might surprise in a positive way.

Signs to tell if Your Contact is Just a Contact:
• He or she is not a friend on Facebook.
• You only know him or her on social networking sites (LinkedIn, Twitter, Triberr, Pinterest, etc.)
• You have sent a thank you card to them for helping you out. (e.g. referring you, job lead, advice, etc.)
• You have asked if he or she can introduce you to another contact within the same job or field (if you know he or she already knows the contact).
• Contact mentions the communication between you and him or her has crossed the line or has become inappropriate.
• Contact does not respond to your e-mails, phone calls, or letters. Ever.
• Contact responds to you and asks you to refrain from communicating with them again.
• Contact repeatedly asks how you know him or her.

Signs Your Contact can become a Friend:
• You want or have added him or her as a friend on Facebook.
• You want to call him or her and invite them to lunch to catch up.
• You schedule time to catch up over the phone if lunch is impossible.
• You update him or her on your interests or changes in direction you are taking.
• Contact is receptive to your communication efforts.
• Contact asks specifics how the last update you gave is progressing.
• Contact accepts your friend request on Facebook, follows you on Instagram, follows you on Twitter, recommends on you on LinkedIn.
• Contact encourages you with your concerns and experiences.

What are some ways you have differentiated a contact from a friend? Or have evolved a contact into a friendship?

This is a foray into some honest discussion about stuff we’ve all encountered in the age of online networking. If you haven’t encountered any of this, you’re either a master of digital socialism or not trying hard enough.

This article was originally crafted and published in May on the Ad Buzz.

KISS: Networking Guide

I have written posts before about networking and this post is a continuation from them. If you missed any of them, you can view them here. With those tips in mind, consider KISS when it comes to networking. I know we have all heard “keep it simple silly” and it applies here more than ever. If you make networking complicated, it won’t work for you. Networking should be easy because it is you sharing with someone who you are and what you do in exchange for his or her information.

Now, that I have graduated from college and am trying to make a name for myself I realize I am my own brand. Who is going to tell the world what I can do? Me. Who is going to offer you assistance with your next research project? Me. Who is going to compliment the marketing your company does and suggest a way to make it better? Me. (Get the idea?) The more I try to get my name out there through a person-to-person or one-on-one basis, the more contacts I get in my phone. The more contacts I get in my phone, the more projects and experience I gain from helping people with what I do best. These are all steps to gain a job in the career field I am wanting to do for a living to sustain myself.

When you are in college, everyone preaches to network. I challenge you to ask any college student who is going to school and work full time and trying to network during their college years and compare it to the time after he or she graduates. There’s no comparison! I am finding more time to network after college than I ever did while I was in college. Instead of worrying about an upcoming exam or assignment, I can go through my daily routine and be able to spot networking opportunities better.

Recently, I purchased a newer car at a dealership and ended up negotiating car prices with the head marketing associate. Before the bottom line was given, he gave me his business card and we discussed his marketing efforts he was doing and working on at the dealership. (Remember, people like to talk about themselves so wait your turn.) When it was appropriate, I shared my experience with consumer engagement for a local gym and offered to bring his ideas to the next level. We talked about our favorite advertising agencies and found some more things we had in common. When the bottom line was given, I had gained a newer 2006 Honda Pilot and a new contact in marketing.

During my daily routine at Publix, I saw a customer wearing a pin that was subtle that had caught my eye. “I’ve lost ____ lbs. Ask me how you can to with HERBALIFE.” The first time I saw it, I was intrigued but didn’t say anything. The next time I saw her with the same pin on, I had to say something. “Ma’am, I like your pin. I’m health conscience and into marketing and think that’s a great way to get someone’s attention without shoving it in their face,” I said. She had ideas of how to expand her business with testimonial blogs and more interaction with customers. We exchanged information and found common ground with her weight loss and franchise in a health company. I shared my experience with consumer engagement and latest hobby of personal blogging.

 

In a nutshell,

  • Be friendly and allow the person you want to network with talk more than you. This way you gain perspective if this is someone you want to help you in the future, someone just to know, or someone you want to work with.
  • Prepare a brief statement of what you do and what you can offer them as a person or for their business.
  • Always carry a business card with you!
  • Within 24 hours, write them an e-mail if you have it thanking them for the meeting earlier. Briefly recap what you said during the engagement and invite your services once again.
  • If there is no e-mail, leave a brief voice mail to recap what transpired earlier.
  • If you are swamped with other “jobs” state you are interested in helping the contact, but honestly tell them a time frame you will be able to if necessary. Remember to keep communication until then.
  • Always thank the contact. Always!
  • If you are a marketer, continue to look for more ways to market yourself and ways a company who could use your help.
  • Be you because it’s what makes you different from everyone else in this world. It will make you more memorable if you stay true to yourself.


What are some ways you have gained a contact through networking?